Thursday, June 7, 2018

Review: "Fahrenheit 451" is a uneven, disjointed adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic

Fahrenheit 451 Review

There is a reason why Ray Bradbury is one of the most well-known science fiction writers ever. Not only that, but helped define the genre and mold it into what it is today. No easy feat that, and "Fahrenheit 451" was one of his greatest writings. Set in the future, we follow the life of a firemen, but not your typical firemen. The firemen of the future set books to flame, because nearly every book is outlawed, in fact, most people rarely, if ever, get out and enjoy nature. They are constantly in front of digital screens. Not only that, but there is little to no privacy. Sound familiar yet? Ever since Facebook was in lieu of the recent Presidential election, its a little creepy to realize that Bradbury might have been up to something very real with his classic novel.

Conspiracy theories aside, the 2018 adaptation features an even creepier version of this. Each building in which this movie takes place has high screens (much like explained in the original novel), the book burnings in the movie have become a sport, and social media icons float by like in those live Facebook videos as firemen gleefully put torch to various piles of literature. It's a disturbing, slightly horrendous sight, and as the generations quickly slouch into their comfiest chairs and dig their heads into their cell phones, I feel like its easy to see a future similar to this. The most interesting thing about the HBO adaptation, which originally premiered at the Cannes Film Festival last May, was the dark look into the future.

Yes, you read that correctly, the look into the future is the most interesting thing about the movie. Sure, Michael B. Jordan plays Montag, the firemen who we view this world through and his partner Beatty, played by Michael Shannon. Both Jordan and Shannon are, as expected, very good in this. But Montag has been reduced to a typical stock good guy and Beatty is his mustache-twirling counterpart. Sofia Boutella plays Clairsse, a wonderful, provocative character in the book. A character that dies early, but leaves a massive impact on Montag in the book. Here, she's your typical love interest, and she's much older so that Montag doesn't come off like a creep. No wife for this Montag, he's given a cliche-ridden love interest instead.

I can't remember every single detail of the book, but I don't remember "Farenheit 451" being a simple action movie and a cat-and-mouse chaser. I know that in the book, the firemen began their new job after the world slowly began to no longer see worth in books and that most writings went on a blacklist because their contents were too offensive. I think in the world where Political Correctness tends to go overboard in certain aspects, and how Social Justice Warriors have to put their two cents on everything, a close adaptation would have been very realized today. Unfotunately in the movie, there is no need to push the films big ideas, its too busy showing radicals being chased by firemen. They don't even do much of a job explaining this world, just some minor lip service as the film begins. Very inconsequential stuff. 

While there is plenty to enjoy, and plenty that is eye-opening. And shoot, there is plenty here that is even entertaining, "Farenheit 451" is slightly disappointing. A movie that wants to appear smart, but has no idea what its really trying to say nor any idea on how to say it. 


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